The importance of hackathons.


Sometimes you just Kent hack enough...

Kent Hack Enough is the largest hacker throwdown in Ohio, giving developers 36 hours to design, create and build something awesome. From scratch.

Teams put their heads together to make apps that are at once original, useful, well-designed and technologically interesting. Winners get cash and Amazon Web Services credits. Everyone gets swag, sponsor love, yoga, food and sleep — you know, if they want it. And we got to meet some seriously talented hackers.

Developer Jeff Chen spent Oct. 18-20 at Kent Hack Enough, talking Tackk, startup culture and career advice (his lovely gal Sarah brought the Red Bull!) to a crowd of 150 undergrad and graduate developers. He walked away with new friends and a renewed sense of his dev self (read Jeff's Kent Tackk Enough post). It got us thinking: why do we hack?

Why hack?

Organized events and intraoffice hackathons go a long way to demo what a dev team can accomplish in short sprees (without all the red tape).

These intense tech benders can turn around months-long projects in a matter of days — just letting coders code. But it's not an excuse for companies to kill their developers with tighter timelines. A good hackathon reminds developers why they code in the first place, sans documentation and momentum-killing meetings.

Hacking makes us look at problems differently, pursuing solutions based on quick, instinctual decisions. Kind of what Malcolm Gladwell calls thin-slicing. It leaves no time for over-analysis. Pick a direction and bum-rush it, baby. Wrong way? Switch!

Four reasons we heart hackathons.

1. Joy of coding. What can we say? There's nothing wrong with loving what you do. Unfortunately, doing what you love for a living can sometimes put a strain on your relationship. Consider hackathons like couples therapy — a distraction-free weekend away from all the crap that mucked up your relationship in the first place.

2. The next generation. Sort of a selfish thing, but we love meeting the next generation of developers who will change the web as we know it. Each new wave of guys and gals brings to the keyboard a different experience of growing up with technology, learning it, using it and loving it. Startups, like Tackk, and the web, in general, will only grow by harnessing their genius.

3. The swag. I mean, who doesn't want a free slinky from Google? But it's less about the objects, more about the connection with big players, like Google, Yahoo and Amazon. And imagining your name at the top (some day) too.

4. Brand new brains. Is it just us or does a weekend away from your everyday give you a new brain? We enjoy seeing the way different people approach coding problems or organize a project. It's easy to get stuck in a legacy process — for years! — even after it's stopped being effective. Seeing new ideas in action inspires us to rethink our processes and come to the Monday-morning meeting with proof in our pockets that change is a good thing.